Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10th Mountain Division Biathlon, Auburn Ski Club

February 26

Rik Eckert

So what do you say to a guy who hasn’t fired his old Anschutz in a decade and comes out to race Biathlon and shoots a zero group the size of a bottle cap right in the bull? “Ummm… I think one click down and you’re good, Danny.” I was spotting my teammate’s shots through my old Bushnell scope on one of those quintessentially California-bluebird race mornings… I think we were both incredulous for different reasons: Danny, still prone on the mat, said, “Hey – Mind if I shoot another group?” I’m pretty sure he was thinking he was just lucky, and I’m pretty sure I was thinking he was just a bastard! Under my breath: “Can’t this guy suck at something – even just a little?” Still, I was sure stoked to have his company at this race, and we skied a warm-up lap in high spirits…

I had another reason to celebrate – On my back I was carrying a new rifle – a work of art really, crafted for me by Clayton Mendel of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Clayton came up to race and brought this beauty with him and presented it to me in the parking lot. I admit I got a little misty hefting the richly colored Birch laminate and wicked shape in the bright morning…

Down to business… The new rifle fired like an old friend in Zero. The Stadium was a sun-lit glow of perfect white corduroy in front of the start line. Glenn Jobe addressed us before the gun – urging us to ski and shoot like ‘ladies and gentlemen’… or was it ‘call-girls and gangsters’?

Danny had a tough time in the range, with 14 penalties in the 20 shots, but skied like a serious business-man into bronze medal position in 38:19. Jordan McElroy took the day in 32:38. I finished 11th in 49:17 with an astonishing 17 penalties, but as always, skiing fast enough to be in the game with much better shooters – Did I mention that I knew my mom and sister were in the crowd? It’d be easier with a few thousand tipsy Scandos instead…

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